Morning Musing: Malachi 2:3-4

“‘Look, I am going to rebuke your descendants, and I will spread animal waste over your faces, the waste from your festival sacrifices, and you will be taken away with it. Then you will know that I sent you this decree, so that my covenant with Levi may continue,’ says the Lord of Armies.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We have several different expressions in English to convey that someone has experienced some kind of embarrassment. One is to eat crow. This phrase comes from the fact that if you have to eat crow, you can’t afford to purchase real meat. It is a humbling state of affairs to be that poor. Another expression is to have egg on your face. This one came out of a time when soft-boiled eggs were a common breakfast item. Men with beards would sometimes leave remnants of their eggy breakfast on their face, and without realizing it carry it with them throughout the day. How embarrassing to later discover you’d been wearing evidence of your morning meal so publicly! In His anger here over the empty and cynical worship practices the priests were allowing and even encouraging, God says He is going to leave something on their faces, but it isn’t egg.

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Digging in Deeper: Malachi 1:12-13

“‘But you are profaning it when you say: “The Lord’s table is defiled, and its product, its food, is contemptible.” You also say: “Look, what a nuisance!” And you scorn it,’ says the Lord of Armies. ‘You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands?’ asks the Lord.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

There is a genre of comedy I would call “office comedy.” Some of the more popular entries are the movie Office Space from several years ago and the more recent television show, The Office. Entries in this genre all carry the same basic understanding of work: It’s something you have to do because there are bills to be paid and we all like to eat. In this vein, work is a convenience to be sure. But other than the convenience of enabling us to, you know, live, it’s an enormous, soul-sucking inconvenience in our lives that gets in the way of all the things we’d rather be doing. In Malachi’s day–and in ours as well–people were taking the same approach in their thinking about their relationship with God. He wasn’t happy about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Zechariah 7:2-5

“Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer, Regem-melech, and their men to plead for the Lord’s favor by asking the priests who were at the house of the Lord of Armies as well as the prophets, ‘Should we mourn and fast in the fifth month as we have done these many years?’ Then the word of the Lord of Armies came to me: ‘Ask all the people of the land and the priests: When you fasted and lamented in the fifth and in the seventh months for these seventy years, did you really fast for me?’”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever done something for someone a long time only to later discover they either had never noticed or didn’t want you doing it the whole time? That would be a frustrating experience to say the least. But, what if some point early on in your efforts, the other person had communicated her position to you in some way that you ignored? You ignored it and forgot about it and kept right on doing whatever it was. That changes things, doesn’t it? Now who were you really doing it for? It wasn’t her anymore. You were really doing it for yourself. Well, what if the object of this unwanted affection were to be God?

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Digging in Deeper: Amos 5:21-24

“I hate, I despise, your feasts! I can’t stand the stench of your solemn assemblies. Even if you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; I will have no regard for your fellowship offerings of fattened cattle. Take away from me the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever received a gift you really didn’t want? I remember playing a big family White Elephant game when I was growing up. I can’t remember exactly what the first gift I opened was, but it was something pretty cool and I was pleased. But then, my uncle used his turn to steal it for my cousin. The second gift I opened was literally a paperweight. I was crushed. I may have gotten a gift, but I most decidedly did not want it. That was a little bit like how God felt about the worship of the Israelites here. He wanted one thing, but they kept giving Him another; and He wasn’t happy about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Amos 4:4-5

“Come to Bethel and rebel; rebel even more at Gilgal! Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tenths every three days. Offer leavened bread as a thank offering, and loudly proclaim your freewill offerings, for that is what you Israelites love to do! This is the declaration of the Lord God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever done the right thing in the wrong place? I was watching one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies with my boys the other day. In one scene, the main character was at a hotel with his family. After a misadventure out in the parking lot late one night, he went back to his room and crawled in bed with his parents only to discover the next morning that it wasn’t his room at all. He had spent the night with another family. That was a pretty funny episode, but as Israel reminds us here, doing things that look right in the wrong places can actually be a pretty dangerous thing as well.

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